UK Elections

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What are elections?
A method of filling an office or post through choices made by a designated body of people
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What are the differences between an election and a referendum?
Elections fill offices, referendums policy decisions, elections select party/candidate, referendums yes/no option, election general issues referendum specific, elections held regular, referendum ad hoc and direct democ elections representative democ
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What does ad hoc mean?
Decided by government
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What is the most important form of political participation?
Elections
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What is representation?
A relationship through which an individual or group stands for or acts on behalf of a larger body of people
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What is a manifesto?
An instruction or command that gives authority to a person or body to act in a particular way
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How does a party gain the manifesto to govern?
By winning a popular mandate
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What are the functions of elections?
To form governments, ensure representation and uphold legitimacy
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What do elections maintain?
Legitimacy
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What does legitimacy provide the key to?
Maintaining political stability
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How to citizens consent to being governed?
Through voting in elections
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What has happened to voter turnout since 2000?
It has declined
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What may the decline in turnout reflect?
Citizens withholding consent to be governed
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In 2010 what percentage of the population voted for the X Factor?
23.18%
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What was the turnout for the PCC election in 2013?
15%
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What was the turnout at the 2012 Manchester by-election?
18%
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What are the three types of electoral system?
Majoritarian/proportional/mixed or hybrid
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In majoritarian electoral systems, where are candidates usually elected to?
Single member constituencies
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Who is the winner in a majoritarian system?
The person who wins the most votes
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What voting system does England use?
FPTP
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What are the types of majoritarian system?
Alternative vote/supplementary vote, second ballot and FPTP
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What do proportional systems do?
Create an accurate fit between the votes cast and the seats allocated
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What type of constituencies are there in proportional systems?
Multi member
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What are examples of proportional systems?
STV and Party List
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What does STV stand for?
Single Transferable Vote
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What are hybrid or mixed systems?
An electoral system that combines elements of the majoritarian systems with proportional representation
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How do hybrid systems work?
Some MPs are elected in single member constituencies and the remainder are elected by PR in multi-member constituencies
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Which parties win the most top up seats in hybrid systems?
Parties who won fewer single member constituencies than their share of the vote
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Give examples of hybrid systems
AMS and AV plus
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What does free mean when we say that elections should be free and fair?
That the electorate is free from harassment, intimidation and bribery
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What percentage of the vote did Simon Wright win in his constituency in 2010?
29.3%
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What party does Simon Wright belong to?
The lib dems
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What was the constituency of Simon Wright?
Norwich South
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Out of 10, how many people in his constituency did not vote for Simon Wright?
7/10
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How does AV work?
If no candidate wins over 50% of the vote the lowest candidate is eliminated and the people who voted for that candidates's second votes are counted and so on until a winner is found
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How many safe seats are there in the UK?
569
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How many very marginal seats are there in the UK?
81
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Give an example of a safe seat
Witney
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Give an example of a marginal seat
Watford
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If the UK introduced AV what would the number of marginal seats be increased to?
125
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How many seats did the Lib Dems win in the 2010 election?
Just 57
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What percentage of the popular vote did the lib dems win in the general election of 2010?
23%
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What does agenda setting entail?
Sin doctors, focus groups, personality focus, opinion polls and advertising agencies
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What are focus groups?
Small groups representative of the target electorate, canvassed and questioned for opinions
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What is the intention of opinion polls?
To gain an insight into current voter intentions
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What skills are required from campaign managers?
Skill, organisation, media contacts and luck
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Where is most money raised for campaigns spent?
On advertising
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What are traditional methods of communications and campaigning?
Leaflets, letters and house to house canvassing
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What are the new techniques of communications and campaigning?
E-campaigning, databases and direct mail
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What are target seats?
Seats that a party thinks they have a good chance of capturing from an opposing party
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In the 2015 election, how many target seats were identified by Labour?
106
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Give an example of a target seat identified by Labour in 2015
Brighton Pavilion
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How many seats were targeted in the 2015 election?
100
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Who do target seats attract the support of?
Local activists, candidates, local media
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Give examples of how a seat can be targeted
Mobilisation of activists to deliver leaflets, door to door canvassing, transportation of voters to and from the polling station, organisation of postal votes on behalf of supporters and use of local media
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What was the main issue priority in the 2006 election?
Healthcare
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What was one of the least important issue priorities in the 2005 election?
Iraq
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What can independent candidates focus mainly on?
Local issues
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In 2005 what did independent Richard Taylor focus most on?
The issue of the hospital closure in Wyre Forest
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Which type of newspaper is most likely to be partisan?
Tabloids
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Up until the mid 1990s who did the tabloids mainly support?
The Conservatives
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Do the majority of adults in the UK read a national daily or Sunday newspaper?
Yes
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Are newspapers legally required to be impartial?
No
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Is the BBC biased?
No, impartial
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In the 1992 election what percentage of press favoured the Conservatives?
70%
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In the 1992 election what percentage of the press favoured Labour?
27%
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How many votes does one study believe that Labour won due to the Sun backing them?
700,000
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Who did the Sun support in the 1997 election?
Labour
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How much funding did Labour have in the 2005 general election?
£17.9m
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How much funding did the Conservatives get in the 2005 general election?
£17.8m
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How much fun ding did the Liberal Democrats get in the 2005 General Election?
£4.3m
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Before limits were imposed, in the 1997 election how much funding did Labour get?
£10.9m
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Who was Bernie Ecclestone?
The CEO of Formula One
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What did Ecclestone do in the 1997 election?
Donated £1 to the Labour Party
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What did many people see the large donation made by Ecclestone to the Labour Party as?
Formula One buying themselves out of the ban on tobacco advertising
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Why are parties relying more and more on large private donations?
They are losing their traditional source of money from the declining membership
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What do elections promote?
Democracy
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What is the most important form of democracy?
Elections
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Which electoral system do the Liberal Democrats want?
STV
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What type of electoral system does Northern Ireland have?
STV
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What type of electoral system does Scotland have?
AMS
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What is a referendum?
A vote on a single issue
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What form of democracy is a referendum?
Direct
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Why are referendums usually held?
To answer questions of constitutional or moral nature
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What are the arguments in favour of holding more referendums in a representative democracy?
They provide a clear answer, mandate on controversial measures, encourage political participation, strengthen constitution, increase legitimacy, are needed in a party system and show public mood
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What are the arguments against holding referendums in a representative democracy?
Phrasing of question important, voters may lack sufficient info, decisions not final, apathy, undermines parliamentary sovereignty, ad hoc, inbalance of funding, issue too complex for yes or no answer, result may not be decisive
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Give examples of past referendums
Northern Ireland, EEC, Devolution, Mayor of London, Scottish independence and AV
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Prior to 1997 how many referendums had been held?
Four
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When was the first ever referendum?
8 March 1973
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Where was the first ever referendum?
Northern Ireland
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What was the first ever referendum about?
Whether Northern Ireland wished to remain in the UK
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What was the EEC referendum?
UK voters asked if they wanted to remain in the EEC
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What was the EEC?
European Economic Community
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What was the result of the EEC referendum?
Remain in EEC
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What was the Mayor of London referendum?
A vote on whether Londoners wanted to elect a mayor
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What was the turnout to the Mayor of London referendum?
Only 1/3rd
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When was the Mayor of London referendum held?
1998
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How did New Labour use referendums?
To involve local people in local decisions
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Give an example of New Labour involving local people in local issues by using referendums
Future Finances in Bristol
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When are referendums used?
When there are major constitutional questions to settle, when there is a division in the governing party on an issue and when there is a significant division of opinion between parties
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What percentage of the population voted against the use of AV?
68%
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What are the disadvantages to FPTP?
Wasted votes, safe seats, over represents large parties, no room for small parties, unrepresentative etc
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What are the UK elections based on?
One person one vote, universal suffrage, the secret ballot and competition
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What electoral system does the general election use?
FPTP
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What did the coalition introduce to limit terms?
Fixed five year terms
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What are the advantages to FPTP?
Strong government, prevents extremists, if it aint broke don't fix it
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What are the devolved assembly elections?
The elections to the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and Northern Irish Assembly
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Are the devolved assembly elections fixed?
Yes
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How often are the devolved assembly elections?
Once ever four years
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How often are elections to the EU held?
Every five years
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When was the first devolved assembly election held?
1998
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When was the first EU parliament election held?
1979
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What are local elections?
Elections to district, borough and county councils
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Are local elections fixed term or decided by government?
Fixed
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How many elections since 1945 have produced single majority governments?
Every one accept two
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Since 1945 what were the two years that didn't produce majority governments?
1974 and 2010
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Who becomes prime minister after a general election?
The leader of the majority party
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What is the first job of the PM?
To form a government or cabinet
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How are coalitions formed?
Through negotiations
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How long do coalitions take to form?
Can take days or weeks
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How many people voted for the 2010 coalition?
Nobody
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Where is FPTP used in the UK?
In elections to the HoC and local governments in England and Wales
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Where is AMS used in the UK?
In the elections to the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and Greater London Assembly
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Where is STV used in the UK?
In elections to the Northern Irish Assembly and to local government in Scotland and Northern Ireland
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Where is the Party List used in the UK?
In elections to the European Parliament
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Where in the UK is SV or AV used?
In by-elections to local government in Scotland and in mayoral elections to London
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How many parliamentary constituencies are there in the UK?
650
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Do the sizes of constituencies in the UK vary?
No, the government tries to keep them all roughly the same size
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Who ensures that the constituencies remain the same size?
The electoral commission and boundary commissions
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Give an example of disproportionality
In 1951 when the Conservatives formed a majority government despite having won fewer votes than Labour or in 1974 when Labour formed a minority government with fewer votes than the conservatives 1
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What is a wasted vote?
A vote that does not affect the outcome of the election because it is cast for a losing candidate
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What does the fear of wasted votes do?
Drives people towards voting for larger parties
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Do parties with geographically centred or distributed support do better in elections?
Those with geographically centred support as they're less likely to come second etc and so win more seats
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Why do Labour and the Conservatives have concentrated support?
Due to their class basis
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Why do the Lib Dems fail to win much of the popular vote?
They are a smaller party with less class based, evenly spread, support
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What is tactical voting?
Voting not for your preferred party but for a least bad party or to defeat a worse party
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What is proportionality?
The degree to which the allocation of seats among parties reflects the distribution of the popular vote
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Give an example of a minor party that does well under FPTP
The nationalist parties in Scotland and Wales
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Since what event has the UK had a two party system?
World War One
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What percentage of the vote did the two major parties win in the 1950s?
Over ninety five per cent
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What percentage of the vote did both of the two major parties win in 2010?
Sixty five per cent
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In 2010 what percentage of MPs belonged to either the Labour or Conservative party?
Eighty five
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What is a safe seat?
A seat or constituency that rarely changes hands and is considered won by the same party
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What is a marginal seat?
A seat or constituency with a small majority, which is therefore winnable by more than one party
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When was the last time a party in the UK won a majority of votes?
1935
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How many times since 1935 has one party failed to win a majority of seats in government?
Twice
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How many representatives are elected using FPTP?
One
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Give an example of an artificial landslide victory
In 1983 where the Conservatives won a 143 seat majority despite their voter support declining by 0.5% in the last election
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What is the second most significant electoral system in the UK?
AMS
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Which is the least proportional form of proportional voting system?
Supplementary vote
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What is the first stage of AMS?
A proportion of seats are filled using FPTP and single member constituencies
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In AMS in Scotland, what percentage of representatives are elected using FPTP?
56%
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During the process of AMS in Wales, how many representatives are elected using FPTP?
66%
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What is the second part of AMS?
The remaining seats are filled using closed party list system
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How many votes do the public cast in AMS?
Two
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What is the first vote cast by the public in AMS?
For a candidate in a constituency election
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What is the second vote cast by the public in AMS?
For a party in a list election
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What is the name of the system used in AMS?
The D'Hondt method
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Why is there a party list element in AMS?
To top up the constituency results
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Does the AMS system still allow for single party majority governments?
Yes
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What are the advantages of AMS?
Allow voters to make wider choices, still possibility of a single-party majority and balances the need for fairness with representation
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What are the disadvantages to AMS?
Less proportional due to single member constituencies, confusing system and larger constituencies mean less representation with some representatives having no constituency duties
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Why do we use a proportional system to the EU parliament?
Because the EU requires that its members use a proportional system
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In what year did the Green Party win a seat?
2010
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Where did the Green Party win its first seat?
Brighton Pavilion
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Where in the UK uses STV to elect members to the EU parliament?
Northern Ireland
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How many constituencies does the Northern Irish Assembly have?
Eighteen
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How many members per constituency in the Northern Irish Assembly are there?
Six
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How many candidates under STV are parties in Northern Ireland allowed to put forward?
As many as there are seats to fill
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How do people vote under STV?
They rank the candidates in order of preference
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How do you win in an election under STV?
Gain a quota of votes
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What formula is used under STV?
The Droop formula
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What is the Droop formula?
Quota= total number of votes cast / number of seats to be filled +1 and then +1 to the result of that
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How are votes first counted under STV?
According to first preferences
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What happens if no candidate wins the quota in the first counting under STV?
The candidate with the least votes drops out and their votes are redistributed
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What are the advantages of STV?
Highly proportional, competition between candidates from the same party means that candidates are judged on their personal strengths and the variety of members means that constituents can choose who to take their grievances to
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What are the disadvantages of FPTP?
Proportionality varies, coalitions likely and divisive constituencies because they encourage competition between members of the same party
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How many members of the Green Party sit in the EU party for England and Wales?
Three
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How many votes did UKIP win in the 2005 general election?
600,000
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How many seats did UKIP win in the 2005 general election?
None
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How many votes did UKIP win in the 2015 election?
Three million
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How many MEPs does UKIP have?
Twenty four
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What kind of a constituency system is used in the regional party list system?
Large multi-member constituencies
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How many MEPs does the UK have?
Seventy two
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How many constituencies in the elections to the European Parliament does the UK have?
Twelve
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How many MEPs does each constituency in the UK elect in the EU elections?
3-10
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What does the electorate vote for in the regional party list?
A party, not a person
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How are the candidates decided in the regional party list?
The party ranks their candidates in order of preference
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Does the UK use closed or open list elections under the regional party list?
Closed
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What are the advantages of the regional party list system?
Only pure system of PR and so is fair to all parties, promotes unity among the party, makes it easier for minority candidates and women to get elected
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What are the disadvantages of the regional party list system?
The existence of many small parties can lead to a weak and unstable government, link between constituents and representatives is weakened and parties hold more power over choice of candidate
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What is a coalition?
A grouping of rival political actors brought together through the recognition that they cannot achieve their goals by working separately
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What is a coalition government?
A formal agreement between two or more parties that involve a sharing of ministerial responsibilities
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What are national governments or grand coalitions?
A coalition comprising of all major parties
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When do national governments usually form?
In times of national crisis
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Give an example of a national government
The national governments of 1931-1940
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What are the benefits of coalitions?
Breadth of representation, bias in favour of compromise and consensus building
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What is the criticism of coalitions?
They are usually weak and unstable
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What type of constituencies are used in in SV and AV?
Single member
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How many votes do the electorate get in SV?
Two
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What must candidates under the AV and SV do to win the election?
They must win over 50% of the vote
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What is the only difference between AV and SV?
If no candidate gets over 50% in AV the bottom candidate drops out and their votes are redistributed whereas in SV only the two candidates with the largest percentage remain and all other candidate's votes are redistributed
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What are the advantages of AV and SV?
Ensures that fewer votes are wasted than in FPTP and due to the fact that candidates have to get over 50%, a broader range of opinions influence the outcome of the election
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What are the disadvantages of AV/SV?
The outcome of the election may be determined by the votes of extremists and winning candidates enjoy little first preference support and are only the least unpopular candidate
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What is electoral reform?
A change in the rules that govern elections
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In what era did the debate over electoral reform really start to kick off?
Mid 1970s
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Explain the development of the Liberal Democrat
The gang of four split from Labour to form the SDP,they then formed with the Liberals to create the Alliance party and finally developed into the Liberal Democrats
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How many votes did Alliance win in 1983?
One quarter of the total
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How many seats did the Alliance Party win in 1983?
Twenty three
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How many constituencies did the Alliance Party come second in the 1983 election?
313
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Why did so many Labour members become tame to the idea of electoral reform?
They felt that, after loosing four elections to the Conservatives, in order to form a government they would need to create a coalition with the Lib Dems and agree on electoral reform
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Who originally formulated the idea of a referendum on electoral reform?
Blair
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What was established by Blair to search for an alternative system to PR?
The independent commission on the Westminster voting system
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Why did Labour never hold a referendum on electoral reform?
Support for electoral reform declined within Labour
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When did Labour form its first majority government?
1945
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What is the main way in which people participate in politics?
Elections
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What is an election?
A device by which popular votes can be converted into seats awarded to representatives or parties
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What are the functions of elections?
Grant legitimacy to an office holder, returning representatives to assemblies, grant a mandate to government, give the option of accountability, give choice, opportunity of participation and they act as a means of education
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What is a mandate?
The authority granted to a candidate or party to implement its manifesto commitments
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What are the negative features of elections?
They often exclude small parties, they only offer one manifesto per party not individual issues, disproportional systems, electoral mandate can give too much power to one group and expensive
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How much is it predicted that the EU referendum will cost?
£142 million
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In 2005 how much of the vote did Labour win?
35%
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How many seats did Labour win in 2005?
Over 50%
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How many more seats than the opposition does Cameron currently have?
Four
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What are the disadvantages of FPTP?
Wasted votes, creates safe seats, favours parties with concentrated support,
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What are the advantages of FPTP?
Quick, simple, easy to understand and produces strong government
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What is a strong government?
A government that has a clear majority to carry through legislation in parliament
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How many more seats than the opposition did the Coalition have?
78
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What is a stable government?
A government that is likely to remain in office without serious crises
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What is proportional representation?
Any electoral system that apportions seats in the legislature in close proportion to the popular vote cast
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Is proportional representation an electoral system?
No
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What is a party system?
A political system which describes how many parties win significant representation
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Give an example of a five party system
Scotland or Wales
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What are the arguments against reforming FPTP?
It provides strong governments, it creates a strong link between MP and constituency, it is easy to understand
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What is electoral reform?
A process of changing the electoral system and thus effecting changes in the political system
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